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Provo’s Municipal Council votes to get public input on new way of parking management

By Genelle Pugmire - | Oct 13, 2021

Isaac Hale Daily Herald

Parking signs are displayed at a parking structure adjacent to the Wells Fargo building Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in downtown Provo. (Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo)

Provo’s Municipal Council is on the verge of reversing a problem that has plagued parts of Provo for more than 50 years.

For more than three years, Provo’s parking committee, headed by Councilman David Harding, has had an on-street parking plan under analysis and scrutiny. They have worked long, and sometimes tedious, hours according to Harding to try and get it market savvy and simple.

Parking issues have been a thorn in the side of students, homeowners and developers since the days of Ernest Wilkinson was presidents of Brigham Young University.

One factor affecting the parking issue is the advent of technology that can help alleviate parking problems through a payment program, finding parking options and more are all provided on new parking apps.

The goals of the new on-street parking plan includes: reducing frustrations and improving the quality of life for residents; have some predictability; encourage efficient use of off-street parking; stop encouraging more cars; and stop discouraging redevelopment of dwelling units to provide adequate parking.

Isaac Hale

Myron Gebhardt, a Provo Parking Enforcement Officer, takes a picture of a vehicle's license plate during a 2016 patrol in the area surrounding BYU's campus in Provo. (Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo)

The council was asked to specifically look at the boundaries of the city and then let the yet-to-be hired parking manager develop specific parking programs within those boundaries.

Currently, the city code Chapter 9.80 has permit parking areas with a designation process, fees, postings, penalties and regulations.

Harding and the rest of the committee proposed Chapter 9.90 for on-street parking management that includes; on-street parking management areas, parking zone parameters, a designation process and regulations.

Chapter 9.90 would be an overall general city code with Chapter 9.91 specific to a designated area specifically the Joaquin Neighborhood south of Brigham Young University.

Chapter 9.91 for Joaquin on-street parking would set boundaries, parameters and have required reviews.

For Harding, the timing is crucial for the codes to be put in place. He would like both additions to be done by the end of the year. Harding is not running for reelection and will no longer be on the council. He is concern it will take too long to get new councilmembers up to speed and the idea will get lost.

After several years of vetting the issue, BYU threw in a wrench recently when it announced that students after their freshman year will no longer be required to live in university-approved housing.

No one is quite sure what will happen to the parking issues come next fall semester. Most likely, students will move further away and parking will now be in higher demand for commuters.

Then there are landlords who don’t like the city poking around parking. Some of them are even over selling their parking spaces forcing some to park on-street.

“Some property owners feel the city is subsidizing complexes that didn’t allow enough parking,” said Councilman David Shipley. “Builders are causing the problem.”

Councilman Handley said, “I’m kind of ambivalent to this. We just talked about raising towing costs and then this. If there is going to be a parking cost students are furious.”

Harding said Chapter 9.90 is not controversial. He asked if the council were willing vote on a motion to have staff take Chapter 9.90 to the public this week through an online survey.

The council voted unanimously to bring it to the public. However, Harding also wanted the Joaquin specific code of 9.91 to be brought as well.

Staff said they recommended not to do the two codes in tandem, but one after the other so they can get the needed feedback.

Wayne Parker, Provo’s chief administrative officer said it would have to be done in the earliest part of the year as students sign contracts for fall and that parking costs should be transparent to them at the time of signing.

Councilman Bill Fillmore noted that a lot assumptions were being made and that time is needed to take on the 9.91 portion.

Two reason stood out most. First, the council needs public input on the general code of Chapter 9.90 before moving to the specifics of Chapter 9.91. Second, the administration needs to hire a traffic manager.

In the end, the council motioned for the staff to progress with 9.90 but voted 6-1 to wait on 9.91 until they have public feedback.

In the meantime, with tongue in cheek, Shipley said he would vote for 9.91 immediately if Harding would accept the position of the new parking manager.

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